BECKENHAM Friends hope death of Ian Baynham will curb prejudice
PUBLISHED: 16:14 02 February 2011 | UPDATED: 16:32 02 February 2011
The friend of a man killed in a ‘mindless’ homophobic attack says that he hopes the incident will help bring an end to hate crime.
Retired George Richardson, 54, was at the bedside of Ian Baynham, 62, for 18 days as he lay in a coma until he died at the Whitechapel hospital in East London.
Ex- public schoolgirl Ruby Thomas, 19, formerly of Bourdon Road, Penge, was jailed for seven years at the Old Bailey last Wednesday for kicking and stamping on Mr Baynham’s head after her friend Joel Alexander, 20, from Talbot Road, Thornton Heath, had floored him with a single punch in front of horrified tourists in Trafalgar Square in September 2009. Alexander was jailed for six years and a third friend, 18-year-old Rachel Burke, from upper Norwood, was imprisoned for two years for affray.
Miss Thomas was handed an extra year in a young offenders institution for launching a tirade of homophobic abuse at Mr Baynham before the attack, calling him a “f***ing faggot.”
Mr Richardson, 54, from Brixton, got a call from his friend in the West End on the night of the horror and rushed to the hospital to be with him, a close friend for some 10 years.
Speaking to the Times on Monday, he said he hopes the killing and the subsequent trial will help raise awareness of an undercurrent of anti-gay sentiment.
He said: “Nothing can bring Ian back but I have a determination to see that justice is done. I was delighted that Ruby Thomas got the extra year for the abuse which started the whole thing.
“In the gay community we are quite used to a level of abuse. If you are walking down the street you will get comments made at you. You tend to get conditioned to it but I want Ian’s to make people talk about hate crime and encourage people to report it, because if it isn’t, how can the police deal with it?”
“If there is one person somewhere in Britain who has suffered from this and it has given them the courage to report it then perhaps Ian’s death has done something good.”
Sentencing the attackers at the Old Bailey, Judge Richard Hawkings, said: “This was a case of mindless, drink-fuelled violence committed in front of many people.
“It ended in the loss of a precious life - catastrophic for Ian Baynham, his family and his friends and no sentence can alter that fact.”
Turning to Thomas, he added: “You demonstrated hostility towards Ian Baynham based on his sexual orientation.”
Ian Baynham’s sister Jenny, 55, from Clapham said: “It is my birthday on February 22 and as a family we always spent birthdays together. Ian just won’t be there and that will be really difficult.
“The sentence is not a lot really. I will never get my brother back again so its hard to see that there is any balance. Ruby Thomas clearly has serious issues and does pose a threat to the public with such aggressive behaviour.”
Mr Richardson, who had two other friends seriously injured when David Copeland set off a nailbomb in a homophobic blast at the Admiral Duncan pub in Soho in 1999, was called by Ian Baynham’s friend Phillip Brownfrom Trafalgar Square the night of the attack.
He said: “I spoke to the paramedics over the phone and I knew then it wasn’t good.
“On the way to the hospital I just kept thinking “How am I going to give this to Ian’s elderly mother?
“My feeling most of the time was that if Ian could come back as Ian that would be marvellous but if he would come back damaged and unable to do the anything for himself then he would have hated it.
“Ian loved life he loved being out and about. He loved the West End. I can’t conceive how he would have coped if he couldn’t have enjoyed life. Wherever he went he way gregarious, jolly and good company. We spent a lot of time having a lot of laughs.”
For full coverage of the Ruby Thomas sentencing and reaction from Mr Baynham’s family see this week’s Bromley Times newspaper.
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